Delta Makes Major Changes to SkyMiles Program, Restricts Lounge Access

New spend-based qualifications for earning elite Delta Medallion Status take effect January 1, 2024, as do several changes to lounge policies.

Delta plane seen from below

It just got more expensive to earn status on Delta Airlines.

Photo by Shutterstock

Come January 1, 2024, it’s going to get a lot harder to obtain Delta elite status and access the airline’s proprietary Sky Club lounges. In a major overhaul to its SkyMiles program, Delta will be moving to a single metric, Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), as the basis for earning status. (Spoiler: major spending will be the sole method for achieving elite status.) Around the same time, the airline will begin to limit entry to Sky Club lounges, turning away Delta SkyMiles Platinum cardholders as well as those flying on Basic Economy fares; later, new restrictions will take effect for AmEx Platinum and Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardholders. Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming changes.

The new—and only—way to earn elite Medallion Status with Delta

Currently, earning elite status (aka Medallion Status) in the Delta SkyMiles program is admittedly a bit complicated. The program is rooted in three metrics for obtaining status: Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs), and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs). Earning status requires a combination of actual flying (reflected in either MQMs or MQSs) and specific thresholds for spending (reflecting in MQDs). Come January 1, 2024, MQMs and MQSs will disappear and only MQDs will remain. Medallion status will be granted at the following thresholds:

  • Silver Medallion: $6,000 MQDs
  • Gold Medallion: $12,000 MQDs
  • Platinum Medallion: $18,000 MQDs
  • Diamond Medallion: $35,000 MQDs

While having a single metric for earning elite status certainly sounds simpler, this means Medallion status will be tied almost exclusively to the amount spent on, Delta operated flights, and partner airline flights. A minimum of $6,000 will be required to achieve even the lowest elite status, Silver. It won’t matter how often or how far you fly with Delta or SkyTeam. Airfare on flights operated by Delta or on one of its partner airlines will count toward elite status at a rate of $1 MQD per $1 spent. Other avenues for earning MQDs at this same rate include booking hotel stays, car rentals, and Delta Vacations through direct Delta channels.

Delta SkyMiles American Express cardholders will still be eligible for MQD boosts but at much lower rates. Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express Card Members will earn $1 MQD for every $10 spent, while Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express cardmembers will earn $1 MQD for every $20 spent. To get Platinum Medallion from credit card spending alone, you’d have to spend $180,000 on a Delta SkyMiles Reserve card or $360,000 on a Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. Put in perspective, cardholders of an American Airlines’ Citi / AAdvantage credit card earn one Loyalty Point per $1 spent and can achieve AAdvantage Platinum Pro/oneworld Emerald status with $125,000 in spending alone. Those with a JetBlue credit card can attain Mosaic Status with $50,000 in card spending.

Changes to Delta Sky Club access begin in 2024

Though Delta has invested in expanding several clubs and even added a feature on its app to indicate Sky Club capacity levels, it hasn’t been enough to deter the masses. So, in tandem with the new elite status requirements, Delta is also permanently implementing new lounge policies in the new year, restricting access to many.

Beginning January 1, 2024, those with a Delta SkyMiles Platinum or Platinum Business Card can no longer enter Delta Sky Clubs. Currently, they can pay a one-time fee of $50 per visit when flying Delta or a SkyTeam partner. In addition, any American Express cardholder traveling on a Delta Basic Economy ticket (or an equivalent ticket with a partner airline) will be turned away. Right now, those with an AmEx Platinum, Delta SkyMiles Reserve or SkyMiles Reserve Business Card have unlimited entry privileges when flying Delta or a partner airline, regardless of fare class.

A year and one month later, on February 1, 2025, new rules will come into play for AmEx Platinum, Delta SkyMiles Reserve and SkyMiles Reserve Business cardholders, eschewing a current policy of unlimited lounge access. When flying a fare class other than Basic Economy on Delta (or equivalent on partner airlines), those with the Platinum Card from American Express will receive six Sky Club visits per cardmember year. Those with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve or Reserve Business Card will receive 10 Sky Club visits per cardmember year. Cardholders of all three can earn unlimited Club access after spending $75,000 on their eligible card in a calendar year, valid for the year in which the spending is achieved plus the following calendar year.

Tying up loose ends

Actual SkyMiles will continue to accrue at a base earning rate of five miles per $1 spent, which gets higher with Medallion status. For those wondering about Rollover MQMs earned during 2023, Delta will provide a one-time rollover choice to convert them into redeemable miles, MQDs, or a combination of both. And for those who are nearing Million Miler Status (for lifelong elite status), there’s some good news. Million Miler Status will continue to be earned via flight miles flown. Any MQMs already earned towards Million Miler Status will remain and all flight miles flown starting January 1, 2024, will be added to the balance.

This story was originally published on September 13, 2023; it was updated on September 14, 2023.

Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in Afar, Condé Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle, and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.
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